Sunday, March 20, 2011


When I think of death, many things come to mind but what is strongest in my mind today is the death of Jonathan Larsen.  If you don't know who he is, he wrote the musical "Rent" and he died pretty young.  He was in his early thirties.  There is an irony to this.  Larsen died suddenly and without warning.  His great masterpiece of a musical was going on that night as a dress rehearsal.  The night of his death, his show was an instant hit.  It was just a small workshop in a small theater.  After a while, this show went on Broadway and then toured all around the world, gaining a strong following and numerous Tony awards.  That is not the irony.  The irony is that the play was a modern version of "La Vi Bohem."  It took place in the eighties when the Grenwich Village in New York was a haven for poor struggling artists dying of AIDS.  The musical was about people living their lives to the fullest even though they knew they were going to die.  The irony is that the play was inspired by Larsen's best friend who had HIV.  The irony is that his friend is still alive to this very day but Jonathen Larsen isn't. 

Larsen was afraid for his friend who supposedly, was going to die very soon.  But when I watched the documentary, watching his friend lament about the irony of this was quite compelling.  I think it has been about twenty years or more and this guy is still alive.  So if you think you know when you are going to die, think again.

The other day, I was watching a House episode about a guy who sued the cancer doctor for the silliest reason.  He was told he was going to die.  So he spent the next few months in happiness, doing all of the things he had never done.  Then he found out he wasn't going to die and he got depressed again.  So he was suing the doctor for "taking away his happiness".

The truth of the matter is, I know I'm going to die.  I know you're going to die.  I don't know when.  It could be today, it could be tomorrow.  It could be ninety years from now but I'm going to die.  That is a fact of nature we cannot overcome.  The best we can do is live every day to the fullest 'cause it can happen anytime.  So the question is not, if you found out you were going to die soon, what would you do?  The question is, what you are going to do period.  This is why I don't hesitate to tell my son and my husband that I love them and why I try to uplift the people in my life whenever I have a chance and why I try to give my all to every job I do when I'm doing it and why I take a moment to notice the clouds and the rain and the ocean and the flowers while they are there because nothing is permanent.  I love my sorrow as much as I love joy, my pain, my anger, my lust, my greed, my compassion etc... I enjoy every moment even if that moment is suffering.  Its life and you should enjoy it while it's here.  And if there is something after death, then life is preparing us for it so we should get as much out of it as we can. 

Okay, here's another story I heard from someone who now works in the claims department of a landscaping company.  There was a terrible accident and he found out that the guy who crashed the company vehicle through a fence and off a cliff just woke up and told someone he was committing suicide.  Apparently, he took some pills to make him fall asleep at the wheel, and then ran his truck off a cliff, through a road block, and into the ground below.  The truck was smashed into a small accordion.  The man was unharmed.  Now that he failed in his goal to die, he'll probably have to commit himself or owe the company a lot of money and he'll probably lose his job and how is he going to explain this to his wife?  This reason is why I don’t see death as a way out.  We can’t prolong it anymore than we can make it come faster.  We must take our focus away from things that we have no control over and indulge in the things that we do.

I can't tell you what comes after death.  It isn't something I'm focused on 'cause I'm too busy living.  Wondering about that is like wondering when you're going to die and nature has a way of hitting people over the head when they think they can control these things.  I can say this, we are all one.  This universe functions on energy that never dies.  It only changes form.  So if you die, you are not destroyed.  That would go against the laws of nature.  Perhaps you'll be recycled.  I'm not saying you'll be reincarnated.  I'm just saying that you cannot be completely destroyed according to the laws of energy.  And when our loved ones die, do they really disappear?  Really?  I don't think that is possible.  We are the essence of the universe. 


  1. Beautifully said! Death is inevitable but what bothers me is when death is imposed. The senseless acts violence from one person to another is what robs this universe from its true essence. I also agree, those that pass really do not leave us.

  2. Very true, Johanna. Violence does upset me more than random death. But illness can also seem violent, like an attack of the body. The lack of humanity that stems from senseless acts of violence gets me in the gut because I am human and it is my instinct to try to preserve the lives of my people not to destroy it. It is hard to grasp my mind around people wanting to kill other people

  3. "if you think you know when you are going to die, think again." That is such a truthful statement. I hope I die suddenly - no prolonged suffering or ridiculous hospital bills ... just keel over or better yet? Explode (so nobody needs to bury my ashes).

    Found you on Book Blogs. I'm not following you on Twitter and Facebook too. Nice post. Love the topic. Vlah-haha.

  4. Vlah-haha... I love it! Yup, one can only hope. Just don't get cocky and try to blow yourself up with a grenade because it might not work. ;)
    Thanks for checking out my blog!

  5. What a story about Larsen, its the first time I've heard it. Even if he died, he left a great story.

    Sometimes its in a near-death experience that makes people appreciate life.

    As Steve Jobs said,
    "No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.And that is as it should be. Because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new."

  6. very wise words from Steve Jobs. Great quote! Funny how death is life's change agent, yet it is the one constant. People have learned to control nature in so many ways but no one has ever eliminated death.
    There was a story in Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series, about a man who cheated death. Death came for him and he simply wasn't ready for her. According to the story, death won't take you unless you are willing. Death is a very cool chick who let's you know it's over. She makes you feel like a weight has been lifted and most people follow her. This man always refused and lived for hundreds of years.

  7. Fascinating concept. I love stories about cheating death (or not). Even though it was pretty campy, I really enjoyed the idea behind the first Final Destination (after the first, it just got silly).

    What I really liked about this post is your assertion that you can't make death come faster. It would be interesting to know the numbers on how many people fail at suicide attempts.

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

  8. absolutely Paul! Thanks for stopping by